Organised Religion

What is organised religion?  How does one know when one meets organised religion?  Does organised religion come with a sign that says “Organised Religion: enter here”?

I have a confession. This real community of real people connected by WordPress and the internet … I get more “God” here than I have found elsewhere.

In this community I do not know what job you do … what clothes you wear … how big or small your house … how big or small your ego … how high or low on the pecking order.  I know nothing about you – yet I Know You.

I know you because you know me.  And we know each other because we both come with our “spiritual button” exposed.  And because of that I can only connect with your spiritual button – and you can only connect with mine.  And once we have connected in a spiritual place – the rest does not matter.  And if we do not connect in that spiritual place – the rest does not matter (for a different reason).

Imagine a church where that was true.

Where all were all blind to clothes, colour, income, titles, pecking orders, length of service, cliques and clans.  Imagine that place where (because each connected spiritually) the rest did not matter.

Have you been in such a place.  Did it stay that way?  Did you stay that way?

Yet in this internet community I have “met” and connected spiritually with many.  And there are many I would trust with my life.  Who I would trust with my wallet.  Whose eccentricities and foibles – whose humanity and selflessness – I would accept and embrace.

And you might not be “that” really – or not all the time – or not with everyone. But once we each connect our spiritual buttons – the rest does not matter. And I think “that” is what organised religion is not.  And I think that having experienced what organised religion is – I miss what organised religion is not.

I have found in this internet community a church that is “a church”.

Where all walks of life, all lifestyles of living, all loving of lovers – where the anger of dislikes, the passion of anoraks, the tradition of religion, the trendy of non-religion – where the ones disinterested, the ones empowered, the ones disenfranchised, the ones franchised – where all ARE welcome.

I find that this community is “church”.

Where we meet as we are.  Where we are each met as we are.  Where I can change because of you and because of you allowing me.  Where I can be safe because having connected spiritually – the rest simply does not matter.  Where I can be safe because others will see that I am.  I have yet to find another place where that is true (other than family).

Yet this community is ever-changing.  Some come every day, others come and go, others come and then leave.

And the doors are always open – and someone is always here.

If this is not church, then I do not know church at all.


The stories I want to share

Little Monk’s The Candidate Meeting – a fable prompted me to look back at some of my posts from a while ago.  And my Lord drew me straight to this – a post dated 4th November 2013:

The stories I want to share …

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There is a phrase for holidaymakers abroad: “Don’t leave your brain at the airport.”  Because if you do it answers the cry of “Why me?” (from the bottom of some avoidable hole you have dug for yourself)

And I think there should be a similar approach to reading the bible.  Like today’s verses:

Luke 14:12-14 “Jesus said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Taken literally I would never ask my friends or family again.  Which is nuts.  It would also be a dis-service to the Lord in parking my brain at the airport.  Which makes it a dis-service to me as well.  And it makes it a dis-service to all of us who talk about this wonderful Saviour we have.  That we want others to hear about.  Through our lives and our stories.

This “story” happened yesterday.

We did not have a luncheon or a dinner, we had a breakfast.  A chunk of our family getting together over a plate and a cuppa.  Two wee ones there.  One just four weeks old, the other just gone three years old.  Breakfast for me followed by seeing a chunk of God’s family in church later.  Breakfast for the rest followed by doing family things and feeding the baby.  Who has become a fixture on his mother’s chest (and complains bitterly – as all babies do – when unhappy).

But something changed my expected day.  The three year old has not been himself.  Obvious changes to family life accepted, the occasional sniffle acknowledged, normal living included … he has still not been himself despite all of that.  And inside me – intuitively, sensory, at a deep level – the words: “Duvet Day” came to me.  A three year old?  We don’t do duvet days for three year olds.  They don’t need them.  But this wee man through the Lord was calling out … “Duvet Day”.

(“duvet day”: noun- informal: an unscheduled extra day’s leave from work, taken to alleviate stress or pressure and sanctioned by one’s employer)

To cut a long story short: mum and dad reluctantly agreed, a duvet day followed, and our wee grandson spent the day chilling.

And around church time, I was sitting playing my guitar for him. “Silent Night”.  A carol instead of the usual nursery rhymes he loves.  I have no idea why I was playing a carol.  And just the first verse (I don’t know the others).  Over and over.  Gently and tenderly.  And this wee chap slid from standing near me to sitting on the floor, and after a while gently flopped over to his side, gently onto his back, and his eyes – very delicately – closed.  And he slept.

He has never done that before.

I was so moved I couldn’t keep singing. Choked up.  Just strumming quietly in awe and wonder.  Overcome with a knowing.  Knowing that the Lord was all around.  Right there.  With so much love.  So much tenderness.  So much care.  The room was thick with love.  And the thought came to me: “When two or three are gathered together in my name …”

The Lord changed my plans yesterday.  I did not get to His house.  He came to our’s instead.

That is my wonderful Saviour.

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These are the stories I want to share.